Thursday, December 3, 2015

Samsung announces payment of $548 million to Apple but reserves right to seek reimbursement

Last month, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit denied Samsung's petition for an en banc rehearing on the question of whether Apple could enforce payments involving (among other things) a patent--the '915 pinch-to-zoom API patent--that the USPTO has held invalid. The en banc petition looked like Samsung might further appeal this matter to the Supreme Court. But on Thursday afternoon local California time, Apple and Samsung filed a joint case management statement with the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, in which Samsung says it has "has made arrangements to complete payment to Apple." It is now waiting for Apple's original invoice, and if that payment arrives before the weekend by Korean time, it will send $548 million to Apple by December 14.

So, approximately four months before the fifth anniversary of its original complaint, Apple will physically receive money from Samsung. After years of not getting a cent, more than half a billion dollars is significant. But the case management statement (which for whatever reason I haven't been able to upload to Scribd) indicates that Samsung, while apparently not asking the Supreme Court to look at this right now, does not believe that the funds will necessarily stay on Apple's bank account forever:

"Samsung continues to reserve all rights to obtain reimbursement from Apple and/or payment by Apple of all amounts required to be paid as taxes. [...] Samsung further reserves all rights to reclaim or obtain reimbursement of any judgment amounts paid by Samsung to any entity in the event the partial judgment is reversed, modified, vacated or set aside on appeal or otherwise, including as a result of any proceedings before the USPTO addressing the patents at issue or as a result of any petition for writ of certiorari filed with the Supreme Court. Samsung notes that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board has issued a final decision of invalidity on the '915 Patent, and Apple filed a notice of appeal to the Federal Circuit in the USPTO last week."

Apple writes in its own part of the filing that it "disputes Samsung's asserted rights to reimbursement."

I tend to agree with the president of the Hispanic Leadership Fund, who wrote an op-ed for with the following title:

"Patent office sides with innovation, yet Apple double-downs on fool's gold patents"

The situation surrounding the '915 patent is not the only factor of uncertainty here for Apple. Samsung announced in the summer that it would file a petition for writ of certiorari (request for Supreme Court review) concerning design patent damages. If the top U.S. court agreed to hear that matter and agreed with what will likely be a broad industry coalition, there would have to be a retrial.

Lest I forget, one of Apple's iPhone design patents underlying the decision is also under serious pressure as the patent office feels it shouldn't have granted that one either.

So this will go on for some more time, especially since the filing also notes that a settlement conference took place on November 2, 2015 and "did not result in settlement."

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